Biden’s America: Eighth graders may face criminal charges for ‘hateful and racist’ Snapchat comments

A Massachusetts district attorney’s idea of meting out justice had many crying thoughtcrime over eighth graders’ alleged “hateful, racist” offenses.

Soft-on-crime policies have been a boon for criminally enterprising individuals as police precincts, court houses and jails have unlocked a revolving door of recidivism. While businesses have shuttered and law enforcement was spread thin in cities across America, Hampden District Attorney Anthony Gulluni pursued criminal charges against 13- and 14-year-olds over a social media chat.

In a lengthy statement published on Facebook, the Southern Massachusetts DA laid out how an alleged “racial bullying incident” led to charges against six students of Southwick Regional School.

“Hatred and racism have no place in this community. And where this behavior becomes criminal, I will ensure that we act, and act with swift resolve, as we did here, to uncover it and bring it to the light of justice,” said Gulluni. “There is no question that the alleged behavior of these six juveniles is vile, cruel, and contemptible.”

According to the release, from the evening of Feb. 8 through the morning of Feb. 9, the unnamed students had engaged in a Snapchat conversation “that included heinous language, threats, and a mock slave auction.”

“Seeing it, and facing the reality that these thoughts, that this ugliness, can exist within middle school students, here, in this community, in 2024 is discouraging, unsettling, and deeply frustrating,” the DA continued. “As I have described, through the work of my office’s investigators, and the work in court yet to come, we intend to appropriately punish those whose alleged behavior displayed a capacity for such hatred and cruelty and, ultimately, amounted to chargeable criminal conduct.”

“And we must also acknowledge that this incident is not and will not be the only one of its kind. It is a reality that we cannot ignore. I look forward with resolve and commitment to enact change and to foster progress in this county,” said Gulluni.

The DA’s office detailed that school authorities became aware of the chat on Feb. 9 and by the following Monday a number of the students involved were “immediately suspended as an emergency removal, per state law.”

By the end of the week, two of the students were suspended for 25 days and another for 45 days from Southwick Regional School.

As to their alleged offenses, two of the children were charged in juvenile court with interference with civil rights while all six were charged with threat to commit a crime.

District Superintendent Jennifer Willard faced calls for her ouster from members of the community and outcry from Greater Springfield NAACP president Bishop Talbert W. Swan who said in a letter the children “acted maliciously with the intent to cause pain, embarrassment, fear, and trepidation.”

In her own statement, she said, “We can assure the community that the District does issue consequences in accordance with our school code of conduct in these types of circumstances. As stated in our original email to the community, the District firmly believes that racism and discrimination have no place in our school community.”

Meanwhile, reactions to the charges acknowledged that the behavior of the students was likely uncivilized but well within their First Amendment rights.

Kevin Haggerty

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